Will We See Wider Adoption of UAV Insurance in 2017?

Stipulating that operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) be insured to cover damages in the event of a mishap would be a positive step for the drone industry, the author posits.

As the year comes to an end, it’s been fascinating to reflect how the landscape of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has changed in the last 365 days. For one, the long awaited FAA small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) regulations finally took effect, and we have thousands of new operators amongst us.

New drones with innovative capabilities are popping up like mushrooms, fueled by an incredible surge in new technologies. However, I can’t help but gaze into the New Year with curiosity. How will drones change throughout 2017? In the next 12 months, it is my belief that we will begin to see the wider adoption of UAV insurance.

This may sound a little unnecessary to some, but let me explain with a real life example. The Boston Herald recently reported about a groom being sued by two wedding guests after a drone crashed into the couple on the dance floor, resulting in a visit from the paramedics, a fractured nose and orbital bone, and a gash that required more than 20 stiches. Simply wanting to capture the most important moment of their life, the newlyweds missed their honeymoon and are now facing a serious lawsuit where they will have to pay the court fees and any damages in full if the case is lost. Talk about buyer’s remorse.

As drone’s become more common, this scenario will surely repeat itself until people begin to internalize that drones are not toys. They are aircraft! On a much smaller scale, yes, but aircraft nonetheless. As the two (former) friends of the groom will tell you, drones operated in an unfit manner can have some real impacts. Literally.

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In my (humble) opinion, anyone in possession of a UAV should be required to carry insurance for drone operations. Things go wrong; it’s the nature of life. Sometimes as with this particular instance, it is preventable. However, sometimes things just happen. The example above will certainly not turn out to be cheap, but if the groom had UAV insurance, the damages might be covered under his plan (similar to insured driver coverage). 

Anyone looking to use drones should learn from this example – while technology is absolutely incredible, you can count on Murphy’s Law to be alive and well!  (Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.) Yes, drones are extraordinary tools; and, yes, they can be helpful in a wide variety of situations, especially in the security industry. But we must also respect their power. A 40-pound drone falling from the sky can and will cause major and costly damage.

For security companies in an already dangerous industry, employing drones for monitoring purposes without an insurance policy in a way adds another level of uncertainty. No one, nor no one technology, is perfect.

UAV insurance would help bring certainty and eliminate the general public’s apprehension toward drones by having a clear plan in place for when accidents happen.

I think as the New Year progresses, more and more companies and individuals like the groom in our example above will advocate that UAV Insurance should be a requirement for drone operators. For the unexpected scenarios on a rainy day. Or the occasional wedding day.

Andy Von Stauffenberg is CEO of VStar Systems.

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